Standing in Snow at the Gate of the Cheng Home
In the Northern Song Dynasty, Yang Shi (1053-1135), together with his friend You Zuo (1053-1123), went to visit the renowned scholar Cheng Yi (1033-1107) to seek his answer to some questions they had. Cheng was having a nap. Not to disturb him, they waited outside the gate, standing in heavy snowfall. When Cheng woke up, he was deeply moved and gave detailed answers to Yang Shi’s questions. Yang later became a great scholar. This story urges students to learn from their teachers respectfully. A similar story is told in a Zen Buddhist text. Huike, a Buddhist monk, sought guidance from Bodhidharma, who is credited with having introduced Zen to China. Huike also waited a long time at night in heavy snowfall outside Bodhidharma’s abode. These stories show that respecting teachers has been one of the great traditions of the Chinese nation since ancient times.
One day Yang Shi went to see Cheng Yi. The latter happened to be taking a nap, so Yang Shi and his companion You Zuo stood outside and waited. When Cheng woke up, the snow outside his gate was already quite deep. (The History of the Song Dynasty)
So the monk Huike went to see Bodhidharma and attended on him at dawn and dusk. The master always sat facing a wall without giving a word of guidance or encouragement… On the night of the ninth day of the twelfth month that year, there was a heavy fall of snow. Huike stood straight beside Bodhidharma, and by daybreak snow had reached above his knees. (Shi Daoyuan: Buddhist Teachings During the Jingde Reign of Emperor Zhenzong of the Song)